From left, Victoria Hall, the first second generation to take part in the senior student exchange program between Campbell River and the city’s sister city, Ishikari, introduces Japanese exchange students Ruka Hoshino and Kyoka Imaeda who will spend the school year studying in Campbell River. Photo by Kristen Douglas/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River welcomes Japanese exchange students

Two high school students from Campbell River’s sister city, Ishikari, will study here this year

Campbell River’s newest Japanese exchange students received a warm welcome from city council Monday night.

Ruka Hoshino and Kyoka Imaeda, who will spend the year studying at Carihi and Timberline, respectively, were presented with City of Campbell River water bottles and luggage tags to help the pair feel at home.

The pair were introduced to council by Victoria Hall, a Campbell River high school student, who just returned home from a year studying abroad in Ishikari, Japan – Campbell River’s sister city.

Hall was following in the footsteps of her mother, Sue Hall, who is now the coordinator of the senior exchange program between the two sister cities and who spent a year in Ishikari in 1988.

“I was lucky enough to go to the same school she went to and I’m the first second generation to ever do the full year-long exchange,” Hall told council.

Hall said while in Japan on her exchange she was in the same class as Ruka, who four years ago came to Campbell River as part of the Young Ambassador Program which sees students go to Ishikari during Spring Break. Hall stayed with both Ruka and Kyoka’s families during her time in Ishikari.

“My trip in Japan was really wonderful, I got to experience a whole bunch of new culture and eat a lot of weird food which was rather fun,” Hall said. “But I got the privilege of staying with many host families that were the most politest people and kindest people you could ever meet. I definitely cherished this opportunity to go and hopefully more students will get the opportunity I got. I think it’s memories that I will never forget because they were so wonderful there.”

Since Campbell River and Ishikari signed a Twinning Document on Feb. 2,1983, the program has seen “in excess of 900 students go back and forth,” said Mayor Andy Adams.

The relationship has extended beyond the exchange of students, however, with local government officials making the trek and the two cities exchanging gifts to mark anniversary milestones.

In Ishikari, there is a totem pole carved by Campbell River’s Sam Henderson and here in Campbell River, the torii gate across from the museum in Sequoia Park marks the 10th anniversary of the two sister cities.

The 25 cherry blossom trees that line the walkway in front of City Hall were a 25th anniversary gift from Ishikari and in return, Campbell River gave the Japanese city a chainsaw carving which is on display in the lobby of Ishikari’s City Hall.

“The Twinning Societies in Ishikari and Campbell River play a vital role in the quality of student experience through the Senior Exchange Program and the Young Ambassador Program and we certainly welcome our two new ambassadors from Ishikari to Campbell River for what I anticipate will be a very exciting year, very interesting year,” Adams said.

To learn more about the Campbell River Twinning Society visit, twinningcr.bc.ca or the Campbell River Twinning Society Facebook page.